NEWARK -- New Jersey Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador jokingly reminisced about this time a year ago. About how he and teammate Zach Parise, coming off an injury as well at the time, were more worried about getting in shape and being able to tie their shoes than playing hockey.
Salvador missed all of the 2010-11 with an inner-ear concussion after taking a puck to the side of the head. He returned to the Devils this season and didn't score a goal while playing a full 82-game schedule.
Maybe Salvador was saving his offensive skills for the playoffs, because his fourth goal of the postseason was the deciding factor in New Jersey's 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 to stay alive in the Stanley Cup Final.
Here is Salvador's second-period goal:A video or other embedded content has been hidden. Click here to view it.
"[I was] just trying to get the puck through. [I] kind of faked the shot there and bought some time so I could go across grain," said Salvador. "I think it went off 16 people and went in."
It only went off one Kings player, Slava Voynov; the second time he's been victimized this series having a goal against Los Angeles go off of him.
That type of goal has been typical for Salvador this postseason. After scoring an empty-netter in Game 2 against the Philadelphia Flyers in Round 2, he would score a tying goal in Game 5 that deflected off Wayne Simmonds' stick and his opening goal in Game 4 against the New York Rangers beat Henrik Lundqvist after hitting Anton Stralman's skate.
"We've been looking for him to score goals all year. So he peaked at the right time if you ask me," said Martin Brodeur.
As much as the Devils and head coach Peter DeBoer have talked about how the team feeds off of the composure of Brodeur, the same can be said for the 36-year old Salvador. He and Anton Volchenkov were two big reasons why the New Jersey penalty kill was No. 1 overall during the regular season.
DeBoer and Parise were quick to credit Salvador for his defensive skills after Game 5, but for the time being, they'll also continue to welcome his offensive contributions, and so will will Salvador.
"[I] went 82 games without scoring, so any goal I can take I'm taking it," he said.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy